Living the Antithesis Like Our Spiritual Fathers:

~ A. Kuyper

 “We must never conceal that Word in the folds and creases of worldly clothing.”

What carries over from Isaiah’s imagery and what it intends to convey is that we can only see by the light of God’s Word and Spirit when our souls are not always looking at and hankering after the ways of the world. We see only when we embrace absolutely the separation between God’s people and the people of the world. Then we’ll have nothing to do with their song and dance, either in our hearts, our heads, or our homes.

That’s how our fathers felt. That’s why they became staunch Puritans, that is, people who had the courage to break with the ungodly world that the Lord so accurately describes as people ‘who hatch lizards’ eggs and weave spiders’ webs.’

Our spiritual fathers yearned not to be conformed to this world. That’s why they thought differently, sang differently, lived differently, ate differently, clothed themselves differently, and raised their children differently. They didn’t allow the world to dictate their standards, but they reverently bowed their heads to God’s law. When the world called out: ‘Come along with me!’ their ready, stalwart, and bold response was: ‘We can’t!’ And they didn’t either, but held to their own path and thus reached their destination.

And that’s how we should proceed, brothers and sisters, guided by the same rule. We shouldn’t introduce a Mennonite kind of avoidance, nor play the part of ‘Precisionists,’ nor expect repayment from God for satisfying him with the self-righteous work of chastising ourselves. All of this is deadening, under his curse, and yields nothing at all.

No, but remaining in this world, as often as the demands of this world’s words come into conflict with the Word of God, we need to stand relentlessly and immovably on God’s Word. We need to cling to it tenaciously. We simply need to proceed on that basis of that Word with deadly seriousness in opposition to all earthly powers, friends, kinsmen, and human talk and gossip.

We must never conceal that Word in the folds and creases of worldly clothing.

Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.162-64.

This particular meditation (#52 of Volume 1) is titled “We Fumble Along in the Middle of the Day” and is based on Isaiah 59:10 (KJV)  – “We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men..”

The Three R’s Blog

James Durham on the Ninth Commandment

A Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments

The Lord having in the foregoing commands us how to walk with others in reference to their honour, life, chastity, and estate: Now, because men and human societies are generally concerned in the observing of truth and ingenuity, he comes to this command to direct us how to be tender of this, that by us our neighbour be not wronged in that respect, but that on the contrary, all means may be used to preserve truth for his good, to prevent what may load [reproach] his name, and remove what lies on it. The scope of it is the preservation of verity and ingenuity amongst men (Gal. 3:9). Lie not to one another; Eph. 4:25, 15 speak every man the truth, etc. and speak the truth in love; because if otherwise spoken, it is contrary to the scope of this command, which is the preservation of our neighbour’s name from a principle of love. The sin, forbidden here is expressed by false witness bearing, which is especially before judges, because that is the most palpable gross way of venting and untruth, under which (s in other commands) all the lesser are forbidden.

            Although there are many sorts of sins in words, whereby we wrong others, yet we think that are not all to be reduced to this command, for injurious and angry words belong to the sixth command, and filthy words to the seventh; but we take in here such words as are contrary to truth, and fall especially under lying or wronging of our neighbour’s name. Now truth being an equality or conformity of men’s words to the thing they speak, as it is indeed, and in itself; and lying being opposite there to; we may consider it two ways: 1. In reference to a man’s mind, that is, that he speak as he thinks in his heart (as it is Psa. 15:2), this is the first rule whereby lying is discerned, if our speech is not answerable to the inward conception which it pretends to express, and this is that which they call, formale mendacium, or a formal lie, which is an expressing of a thing otherwise than we think it to be, with a purpose to deceive. Then 2. There must be a conformity in this conception to the thing itself, and so men must be careful to have their thoughts of things suitable to the things themselves, that they may the more falsely express them, and thus when there is a disconformity between men’s words and the thing they seem to express, it is that which they call materiale mendacium, or a material lie, and a breach of this command that requires truth in men’s words, both as to matter and manner.

            That we may sum up this command (which is bound) into some few particulars, we may consider it first, as it is broken. 1. In the heart. 2. In the gesture. 3. In right. 4. In word.    

            First, in heart a man my fail, 1. By suspecting others unjustly: this is called evil surmising (1 Tim. 6:4), or as it is in the original; evil suspicion; which is when men are suspected of some evil without ground, as Potiphar suspected Joseph, or it is jealousy, when this suspicion is mixed with fear of prejudice to some interest we love, so Herod was jealous when Christ was born, and the neighbouring kings when Jerusalem was a-building. There is, I grant, a right suspicion, such as Solomon had of Adonijah, and wherein Gedaliah failed in not crediting Johannan’s information about Ishmael’s conspiracy against his life. 

  1. By rash judging and unjust concluding concerning a man’s state, as Job’s friends did; or his actions, as Eli did of Hannah, saying that she was drunk, because of the moving of her lips; or his end. As the Corinthians did of Paul, when he took wages, they said it was covetousness, and when he took it not, they said it was want of love (see Rom. 14:4; 2 Cor. 12:4, etc.).
  2. By hasty judging, too soon passing sentence in our mind from some seeming evidence of that which is only in the heart, and not in the outward practice, this is but to judge before the time, and hastily (Matt. 7:1).
  3. There is light judging, laying the weight of conclusions upon arguments or midses [means] that will not bear it, as Job’s friends did, and as the Barbarians suspected Paul to be a murderer, when they saw the viper on his hand (Acts 25:4). Thus the King Ahaseurus trusted Haman’s calummy of the Jews too soon.
  4. The breach of this command in the heart may be when suspicion of our neighbour’s failing is kept up, and means not used to be satisfied about it, contrary to that, Matt. 18:15, If thy brother offend thee, etc; and when we seek not to be satisfied, but rest on presumptions, when they seem probable.

            Secondly, in gesture this command may be broken, by nodding, winking, or such like (and even sometimes by silence) when these import in our accustomed way some tacit sinister insinuation, especially when either they are purposed for that end, or when others are known to mistake because of them, and we suffer them to continue under this mistake. 

            Thirdly, by writing this command may be broken (as Ezra 5:6; Neh. 6:5). Where calumniating libels are written, and sent by their enemies against the Jews and Nehemiah; in which respect many fail in these days.

Fourthly, but words are most properly the seat wherein this sin is subjected, whether they be only or merely words, or also put in writing, because in these our conformity or disconformity to truth does most appear.

  1. Lies are commonly divided into three sorts, according to their ends: (1) There is mendacium perniciosun, a malicious or pernicious lie, when it is hurtful to another, and so designed, as were the lies those that bare false witness against Christ and of Ziba against Mephibosheth. (2) There is officiosum mendacium, or an officious lie, when it is for a good end, such was the midwives’ lie (Ex. 1:9), thus denying of a thing to be, even when the granting of it would infer hurt and damage to another, is contrary to truth, and we ought not to do evil that good may come of it, and it overturns the end for which speaking was appointed, when we declare a thing otherways than we know or think it to be. And as no man can lie for himself for his own safety, so can he not for another’s; thus to lie even for God is a fault, and accounted to be talking deceitfully and wickedly for him, when to keep off what we account dishonourable to him, we will assert that he may, or may not do such a thing, when yet the contrary is true (Job 13:4, 7). (3) There is jocosum mendacium, when it is for sport to make others laugh and be merry, which being sinful in itself can be no matter of lawful sport to make others laugh. (4) We may add one more, and that is mendacium temerarium, when men lie and have no end before them, but through inadvertency and customary looseness, speak otherways than the thing is, this is called the way of lying (Psa. 119:29), and is certainly sinful; as when they told David when Amnon was killed, that all the king’s sons were killed, being too hasty in concluding before they had tried.
  2. Consider lies or untruths, either in things doctrinal, or in matters of fact. In things doctrinal so false teachers and their followers are guilty, who teach and believe lies, so such teachers are said (1 Tim. 4:2), to speak lies, and so when they foretell vain events, this is a high degree of lewd lying on the Lord, to say he means or says another thing than ever he thought, or than ever came into his heart, and to pretend a commission from him when he gives no such commission. In matters of fact, men a guilty when things are said to be done when they are not done, or otherways done than they are done indeed.
  3. We may consider this sin in men’s practice, either in reference to God, so hypocrisy and unanswerableness to our profession is lying (Psa. 78:36; Isa. 29:13), or we may consider it as between man and man, which is more properly the scope here. Again, we may consider the wronging of am man three ways. (1) By false reports, speaking what is indeed untrue. (2) By vain reports, which tend to his shame; so Deut. 5:20, this command is repeated in these words. Thou shalt not take up any witness (as it is in the original) against thy neighbour. (3) When the reports are malicious, whether they be true or false, and intended for that end that our neighbour may lose his good name. Further, consider it in reference to the person guilty, either as he is, (1) the raiser or carrier of a tale, true or false, yet tending to the prejudice of his neighbour; thus he is the maker of a lie. Or (2) as he is a hearer or receiver of tales (Prov. 17:4); thus he is to lying as a resetter [receiver of stolen goods] is to theft. And would not men hear tales, few would carry them; whereas when men will harken to lies, especially great men, all their servants ordinarily become wicked tale-bearers and whisperers. Or (3) as he is the sufferer (albeit he be not the venter) of a lying tale to pass on his neighbour (so he loves a lie, as it is, Rev.22:8) or but faintly purges him of it, but lets it either lie on him, or possibly takes it up and repeats it again, which is condemned, Psa. 15:3, where a man that takes up an evil report of his neighbour, even when others possibly have laid it down, is looked upon as a person who shall never dwell with God. Thus one invented a lie, another vented and outs it, and a third resets it, like coiners, spreaders and resetters of false money; for, that one said such a thing, will not warrant our repeating it again.          
  4. We may consider wrongs done to our neighbour by words, as unjust and without ground, and so a lie is a calumny; as was that of Ziba, made of his master Mephibosheth; this is in Latin calumnia. Or when there is ground, yet when they are spoken to his prejudice, this is convitium, if especially in this they suffer for the truth’s sake; or if after repentance, former faults be cast up to a person, as if one should have called Paul a blasphemer still, even after his conversion and repentance; of this was Shimei guilty by railing on David.
  5. Both these sorts of lies are either spoken or received, and not afterward rejected, as David too hastily received that false report made of Mephibosheth by his servant Ziba, and thinking it not unlikely, because the reporter made it seem to be so, did therefore conclude it was truth, and did not reject it afterwards; or when at first received, yet after upon better information it is rejected.
  6. Again, this wronging of our neighbour by words is either of him when absent, and is backbiting, which often is done under pretence of much respect (that the report may stick the faster0, in such words as these. He is one I wish well, and should be loath to have him evil reported of, but this is too evident, this is the truth etc; this is susurrare, to whisper. Or it is of him when present, so it is a reproach and indignity, or upbraiding.
  7. Again, this backbiting and reproaching is either direct, so that men may easily know we bait such persons, or it is indirect, granting somewhat to his commendation, and using such prefaces as in show bear our much love, but are purposely designed to make the wound given by the tongue the deeper; such persons are as butter in their words, but as sharp swords in their hearts. This is that dissembling love which David complains of.
  8. Sometimes this reproaching and slandering of our neighbour is out of spleen against him, and is malicious; sometimes out of envy to raise and exalt one’s self on the ruins of another (this is grassari in famam proximi); sometimes it is not of design, thereby to insinuate upon them whom we speak unto, as to signify our freedom unto them, to praise them, or praise them, by crying down another, that is to serve the itching humor of such who love the praise of others, when it may be we know more faults of those we speak to, yet never open our mouth to them of one of these, nor are we free with them anent [about] them if the things are true.
  9. We may break this command by speaking truth, (1) For an evil end, as Doeg did (Psa. 52:2). (2) By telling something that is truth out of revenge. (3) When it is done without discretion, so it shames more than edifies. Christ’s word is (Matt. 18:15). Tell him his fault betwixt thee and him alone; and we on the contrary make it anupcast to him; this is certainly is not right. (4) When it is minced, and all not told; which if told might alleviate; or construed and wrested to a wrong end, as did the witnesses who deponed (deposed) against Christ.
  10. We may break this command, and fail in the extremity of speaking too much good of, or to, our neighbour, as well as by speaking evil of him, if the good be not true, and here comes in, (1) excessive and rash praising and commending of one, [1] beyond what is due, [2] beyond what we do to others of as much worth; this is respect of persons; [3] beyond what discretion allows, as when it may be hurtful to awaken envy in others, or pride in them who are thus praised. (2) Praising inordinately, that is before a man’s self, or to gain his affection, and that possibly more than when he is absent and hears not; much more is it to be blamed when spoken groundlessly. This is flattery, a most evil, which is exceedingly hurtful and prejudicial to human societies, yet exceeding delightful to be flattered. (3) We fail in this extremity, when our neighbour is justified or defended, or excused by us in more or less, when it should not be.
  11. Under this sin forbidden in the command, comes in all beguiling speeches, whether it be by equivocation, when the thing is doubtfully and ambiguously expressed; or by mental reservation, a trick whereby the grossest lies may be justified, and which is plainly of all truth in speaking, when the sentence is but half expressed; as suppose one should ask a Romish priest. Art thou a priest? And he should answer, I am no priest; reserving this in mind, I am no priest of Baal; for by giving or expressing the answer so, an untruth and cheat is left upon the asker, and the answer so conceived does not quadrat [square] with the question as it ought to do, if a man would evite (avoid) lying.
  12. This falsehood may be considered with reference to things we speak of, as buying and selling, when we call a thing better or worse that it is indeed, or then we think it to be. Ah! how much lying is there every day this way with many.
  13. Under this sin forbidden in this command are comprehended, (1) Railing. (2) Whispering. (3) Tail-bearing (spoken of before). (4) The Tattling of busybodies, that know not how to insinuate themselves with others, or pass time with them but by some ill tale of another. (5). Prevarication, which is the sin of persons who are inconstant, whose words go not all alike, saying and unsaying; saying now this way, and then another way, of the same thing, their words clashing together, and they not consisting with themselves.
  14. Consider falsehood or false witness-bearing, as it infers breach of promise, which is forbidden (Psa. 15:4), when one performs not what he promises, or promises that which he intends not to perform, which is deceit and falsehood.  
  15. As we may sin in speaking evil against others, so we may in respect of ourselves many ways: (1) When we give occasion to others to speak evil of us (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Cor. 6:3). (2) When we are not careful to entertain and maintain a good name, and by suitable ways to wipe what may mar the same. It is generally observed, that while men have a good name, they are desirous and careful to keep it; and when they have lost it, they grow careless of it. We ought not to be prodigal of our names more than our lives and estates, for the loss of them incapacitates us much to edify others. (3) When we vainly boast of ourselves, and set forth our own praise; that is, as if a man should eat too much honey (Prov. 25:7). (4) When we will not confess a fault, but either deny, excuse, or extenuate it; this Joshua exhorts Achan to eschew. (5) When we say that things are worse with us than indeed they are, and deny, it may be even in reference to our spiritual condition, somewhat of God’s goodness to us, and so lie against the Holy Ghost. (6) When we are too ready to entertain good reports of ourselves, and to be flattered, there is (if anything) an open door to this in us; and as the heathen Seneca said, Blanditiae cum excluduntur placent, so it may be ordinarily seen that men will seemingly reject what they delight should be insisted in; there is in us much self-love, that we think some way, that men in commending us do what is their duty. Therefore, we often think them good folk because they do so, and men that do not commend us we respect them not, or but little, or at least less than we do others, because we think they are behind in a duty by not doing so; and which is very sad, and much to be lamented, few things do lead us to love or hate, commend or discommend (and that as we think not without ground) more than this, that men do love and commend, or not love and commend us.
  16. We also may by withholding a testimony to the truth, and by not clearing of another, when it is in our power to do it, be guilty of this sin. But especially is forbidden public lying and wronging of another judicially, either in his person, name, or estate, and that:

            (1) By judge, when he passes sentence, either rashly, before he hears the matter, and searches it out, which Job disclaims, asserting the contrary of himself (Job 29:16), or ignorantly, or perversely for corrupt ends, as being bribed to it, or otherwise.  

            (2) By the recorder, writing grievous things (Isa. 10:1), or making a clause in a decree, sentence, or writ, more favourable to one, and more prejudicial to another than was intended.

(3) By the witnesses, who either conceal truth, or express it ambiguously, or refuse to testify, or assert what is not true.

            (4) By the advocate, by undertaking to defend or pursue what righteously he cannot; or by hiding from his client that which he knows will prejudge his cause; or by denying it when he asked about it; or not bringing the best defenses he has. And as to the first point here about advocates, it is to be regretted (as a great divine in the neighbour church has most pathetically, according to his manner, lately done) as a sad matter, that any known unrighteous cause should have a professed Christian in the face of a Christian judicatory, to defend it; but incomparably more sad, that almost every unjust cause should find a patron; and that no contentious, malicious person should be more ready to do wrong, than some lawyers to defend him for a (dear bought) feel I speak not here of innocent mistakes in cases of great difficulty; nor yet of excusing a cause bad in the main from unjust aggravations; but (says that great man) when money will hire men to plead for injustice, and use their wits to defend the righteous, and to spoil his cause, and vex him with delays for the advantage of their unrighteous clients. I would not have the conscience of such for all their gains, nor their account to make for all the world. God is the great patron of innocence, and the pleader of every righteous cause; and he that will be so bold as to plead against him, had need of a large fee to save him harmless.

            (5) By the accuser or pursuer, when unjustly he seeks what does not belong unto him, or charges another with what he should not, or justly cannot.

            (6) By the defender when he denies what he knows, or minces it, etc. And by all of them, when business is delayed and protracted through their respective accession to it, as well as when justice is more manifestly wronged: this is the end of Jethro’s advice to Moses (Ex. 18:23), that the people return home, being quickly, and with all convenient diligence dispatched; which, to their great loss and prejudice many ways, the unnecessary lengthening of processes obstructs, and makes law and lawyers, appointed for the case and relief of the people, to be a grievous and vexatious burden to them; for which men in these stations and capacities will have much to answer to God, the righteous Judge of all the earth, when they shall be arraigned before his terrible tribunal, where there will be no need of leading witnesses to prove the guilt, since every man’s conscience will be in place of a thousand witnesses, neither will the nimblest wit, the [most] eloquent tongue, the finest and smoothest pen of the most able lawyer, judge, advocate, notary or litigant that shall be found guilty there, be able to fetch himself fair off. Oh! Then all the gig leaves of their fairest and most flourishing, but really frivolous pretenes, wherewith they palliate themselves, will be instantly blown away by the breath of the Judge’s mouth, and so be utterly unable to cover the shame of their nakedness in the manifold breaches of his command; then the greatest stretches of wit, and highest strains of eloquence made use of to the prejudice of truth and justice, will be found and pronounced to be poor, silly, and childish wiles, yea, very fooleries and babblings; after which they will not speak again, but laying their hands on their mouths, eternally keep silence. It will therefore be the wisdom and advantage of the guilty in time to take with it, and resolving to do so no more, to betake themselves, for the pardon of it, to that Advocate with the Father, even Jesus the Righteous, who thoroughly pleads, and without all peradventure or possibility of losing it, does always carry the cause he undertakes to plead.

            In sum, that which in his command in its positive part is leveled at as the scope thereof, is the preserving and promoting or truth, honest simplicity and ingenuity amongst men; a sincerity and cordially loving regard to the repute and good name of one another; and a sweet inward contentment, joyful satisfaction and complacency of heart therein; with a suitable love to, and care for, our own good name. 

Edited by Chris Coldwell 

A Brief History of Psalm Singing

Reverend Warren Peel speaks about the history of Psalm Singing in the Church. Little known fact today is that the Church for the majority of history sang the Psalms and not man written hymns. God commands us to sing the Psalms. The early Church knew the book of Psalms as being Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. They didn’t worship with man made writings. They sang the inspired word of God in Worship. Psalm singing is making a comeback as the Church realizes the authority that the scriptures hold. May we grow accustom to Worshiping God as He has told us to worship him. Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19

Thomas Manton SERMON XLIII

Psalm 119-verse 38.-“Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.”

DOCTRINE.-That man is indeed God’s servant who is devoted to his fear.

There may be weaknesses and failings, but for the main he is swayed by the fear of God.

1. What it is to fear God.

2. Why this is a sure note of God’s servant; because it removes all the lets of obedience.

1st. What is the fear of God. There is a servile and a filial fear; a fear of wrath which the worst may have: “The devils believe and tremble” (James ii.19). And a fear of offending which the best must have: “Happy is the man that feareth alway” (Prov. xxviii.14); a reverend disposition of heart towards God as our sovereign lord and master, yea, as our Father in Jesus Christ.

For the first of these: –
1. A fear of wrath. Every fear of which is not sinful; it is a duty rather than a sin; all God’s children are bound to have tender sense of God’s wrath or displeasure against sin, to make them awful and serious in the spiritual life, as, “Let us serve God with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. xii.28). Mark, upon that account and consideration, as “he is a consuming fire” that should have an influence upon our godly fear; and, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matt. x.28). The words do not only contain a description of the person who ought to be feared, but the ground and reason why he is to be feared, and therefore it is not simply the fear of which that is sinful, but it is the servility and slavishness of it. Now, what is the servility and slavishness of the fear of wrath? parlty when our own smart and terror is feared more than the displeasing of God; and they have a mind to sin but are afraid of Hell, and it is fear accompanied with hatred.  Servile fear, though it keep us from some sins, as a wolf that may be scared from the pray, yet keeps its devouring nature. It is accompanied with hatred for God; all that fear God they hate him; and indeed they could wish there were no God, none to call them to account; they could wish he were not  so just and holy as he is; and so here lies the evil of it, not so much as fear of wrath (for that is a grace rightly conversant about its object), but as it tends to this hatred of God; and partly, too, servility lies in this, as it makes us shy of God, and run away from him, rather than draw near to him, as Adam ran into the bushes to hide himself. Holy fear is an awe of God upon the soul, but that keeps us in a holy communion with him; “I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me;” but that fear which makes us fly from God is slavish, and partly as it hath torment and perplexity in it, and so hindereth us in God’s service: “Fear hath torment” in it. The fear of wrath, that is a duty, but slavish fear is such a fear of wrath makes us hate God, and shun his presence, and afraid more of wronging ourselves than wronging of God, and such a fear that hath a torment and perplexity in it, that cannot serve God so cheerfully.

2. There is a filial fear, a fear of reverence. This fear of God was in Christ as mediator (Isa. xi. 1, 2). Among other graces there reckoned up which do belong to Jehovah “the Branch,” to Christ Jesus, this is one, “The fear of the Lord.” Christ, as man, had a reverend affection to his Father whom he served, and this fear it continueth to all eternity in the blessed spirits that are in Heaven. The saints and angels have this kind of far, a dread of the holy God, and a reverent and awful respect to his majesty. It is an essential respect which passeth between the creature and the Creator, and can never be abolished. Now, this fear of reverence consisteth in a high esteem of God, of his majesty, glory, power, and in the sense and continual thoughts of his presence. And then a loathness to sin against God, or to offend in his sight, to do anything that is unseemly when God is a looker-on.  What! Can a man sin freely that lives in the sight of the holy God, when he hath a deep sense of his excellency imprinted in his heart? This is that fear which is the note of God’s servants.  2ndly, This must needs be the note of God’s servants because it is the great principle that both hindereth us from sin, and quickeneth us to duty. The fear of God is one of the radical and essential graces which belongeth to a Christian. It is a mighty restraint from sin. The beasts were made to serve men, and how are they held in subjection and obedience to man? “The dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth” (Gen. ix. 2). So we are made for the service of God. Now, how are we kept in subjection to God? When the fear of God is upon our heart, that will not suffer us freely to do anything that is displeasing to God. “God is come to prove you, that his fear may be before your faces that you sin not.” (Exod. xx.20). It is a great remedy against all temptation of gain, and worldly profit, and temporal convenience. Looks, as that man that had a fear of the king upon his heart: “Why didst thou not smite him to the ground?” saith Joab; and the man answered, “Though I should receive a thousand shekels, yet would I not put forth my hand against the king’s son.” (II Sam. xviii. 11, 12). Just such a fear hath a child of God of his heavenly king; no, though I should have never so much offered me to tempt me from my duty; no, I dare not, the Lord hath charged me to the contrary. Or, as when the Rechabites were tempted to drink wine, pots were brought before them to inflame their appetite; no, we dare not. These passages express the workings of heart’s in one that fears God, though temptation be present, and never so much convenience thereby, yet how can they do this wickedness and sin against God.

USE.- It informeth us who are God’s servants. Those that have most of this fear of God planted in their hearts: “He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” (Neh. vii. 2). And then that they express it in their conversation; God will not take it planted in our hearts, if we do not obey him in those things that are contrary to our interests and natural affections. When God tried Abraham that was to offer his Isaac: “Now I know that thou fearest God, since thou hast not withheld thine only son,” 7c. (Gen. xxii.12). Why was Abraham unknown to God before that time? As Peter told Christ, “Lord, thou knowest all things;” cannot God see the inward springs and motions of our souls, and what affections are there? Could not God tell what was in Abraham? But now I acknowledge. For God will not acknowledge it in this sense until we express it. They are the true servants of God that have his fear planted in their hearts, and express it upon all occasions. (pp. 378-380)

Itching Ear Epidemic

But this [a lack of solid biblical, expositional preaching] doesn’t seem to bother many churchgoers. In fact, if given the option between a systematic, verse-by-verse exposition of a book of the Bible or a more topical message where verses are plucked from all over Scripture and combined to create a special series on practical issues like marriage, parenting, sex, money, work, dating, stress, etc., most churchgoers would pick the topical series as their favorite because in their minds it in easier and more enjoyable to listen to and is seemingly more helpful to their everyday lives. This should come as no surprise since the charge Paul gave to Timothy was given with a view to the future when the church ‘will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears fro the truth, and will turn aside to myths’ (2 Tim.4:3-4). We are living in that time period about which Paul warned Timothy.

There are lots of people in churches today who will not put up with sound, doctrinal preaching. They are intolerant of anyone who gets up behind a pulpit and preaches truth that confronts their sinful lifestyle or makes them feel uncomfortable. They flat-out refuse to sit there and listen. If they feel like the preacher is stepping on their toes, they either run him out of the church or find another church where the preacher strokes their ears and makes them leave church feeling good about themselves. They successfully insulate themselves from what they consider the offensive truths of the Bible by surrounding themselves with preachers who caress them rather than confront them, who tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. They evaluate preachers based not on whether their teaching lines up with the Scriptures, but on whether it tickles their fancies, scratches them where they itch, and satisfies their craving to always be encouraged and entertained. It seems most people these days prefer listening to light, uplifting, entertaining messages. If given the choice, they would rather hear fictional stories than biblical truths.

Taken from chapter 4 of Ken Ramey’s book, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word , (Kress Biblical Resources, 2010). This chapter treats Paul’s warning to Timothy in 2 Tim.4:1-4 and is titled “The Itching Ear Epidemic” (pp.51ff.). In it the author speaks both to preachers and to listeners.

in light of what Ramey writes here, we may examine ourselves concerning our own propensity for “itching ears.” Have we been affected by this epidemic found in the churches about us? May God give us a hunger for the pure preaching of the gospel according to His Word and make us faithful listeners of such spiritual food.

Taken from Three R’s Blog

The Sabbath Day!

The first day of the week How to spend it?

In what manner, the Lord’s day is to be regarded or observed; not to ourselves, to our own profit and pleasure; but to the Lord, to His service and glory.

(1) Not as the Jewish Sabbath; with such strictness and severity as not to kindle a fire, dress and manner of food, and travel no farther than what is called “a Sabbath days journey” though perhaps these were never enjoyed with the strictness some have imagined.

(2) We are not to do our own work; that is to follow any trade, business, or occupation employed in on other days; otherwise there are works of piety, mercy and charity to be done, and also of necessity for the preservation of life, the comfort and health of it, our own or others.

(3) It is to be employed more especially in acts of public worship, in assembling together for that purpose in preaching, and hearing the word preached in prayer and singing praises.

(4) In private acts of devotion, both before and after public worship, such as has been already observed.

(5) The whole of the day should be observed, from morning to evening; the early part should not be indulged in sleep nor any part spent in doing a man’s own business in casting up his accounts and setting right his shop books nor in carnal pleasures and recreations in games and sports; nor in walking in the fields nor in taking needless journeys. But beside public worship men should attend to reading the Scriptures, Prayer and meditation and Christian conferences, and in such pious exercise should they spend the whole day. John Gill

Faithful Vigilance

Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus about the critical need for them to be vigilant: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert…” (Acts 20:28–31). This apostolic warning was not just for the Ephesian church; it is a warning that is necessary for every church in every age.

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wisdom, having solemnly warned rebellious scorners, now instructs her dutiful children. The dark question long before asked-“Where shall wisdom be found?” (Job 28:12, 20, 21)-is now answered. It is here set before us, as the fear and knowledge of God (Verse 5); a principle of practical godliness (Verses 7-9); a preservation from besetting temptations (Verses 10-19); and a guide into the right and safe path. (Verse 20). Hence follow the security of its scholars (Verse 21), and the certain ruin of its ungodly despisers. (Verse 22). 

The rules for its attainment are such as the simplest comprehension can apply. Carefully pondered, and diligently improved, they will furnish a key for the understanding of the whole word of God. Let us examine them more distinctly.

Receive my words– Let them be “the seed cast into the ground of an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15)-a heart prepared of God. (Chapter 16:1.) Read the book of God as one who “sat at the feet of Jesus, and heard his word.” (Luke 10:39.) Like the Bereans, “receive it with all readiness” (Acts 17:11); like the Thessalonians, with reverential faith, acknowledging its supreme authority (1 Thess. 2:13.) Hide my commandments with thee. Carry them about with thee as thy choicest treasure for greater security (Col. 3:16, with Matt. 13:44); as thy furniture always at hand for present use. (Chap. 4:20, 21; 8:3. Job 22:22). Let thy heart be the hiding-place for the treasure. (Luke 2:19, 51. Ps. 119:11.) Satan never snatch it thence.

But there must be an active, practical habit of attention. Yet to incline the ear, and apply the heart“who is sufficient for these things?” Oh! my God! let it be thine own work on me-in me. Thou alone canst do it. Let it be with me, as with thy Beloved Son-“Waken my ear morning by morning to hear the learned.” (Isa. 50:4.) So let me under thy grace “incline mine ear, and hear, that my soul may live.” (Ibid. 55:3.)

Without this spirit of prayer-there may be attention and earnestness; yet not one spiritual impression upon the conscience; not one ray of Divine light in the soul. Earthly wisdom is gained by study; heavenly wisdom by prayer. Study may form a Biblical scholar; prayer puts the heart under heavenly tutorage, and therefore forms the wise and spiritual Christian. The word first comes into the ears; then it enters into the heart; there it is safely hid; thence rises the cry-the lifting up of the voice. Thus, “the entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple.” (Ps. 119:130.) God keeps the key of the treasure-house in his own hand. “For this he will be required of” (Ezek. 36:37) to open it unto thee. We look for no other inspiration than Divine grace to make his word clear and impressive. Every verse read and meditated on furnishes material for prayer. Ever text prayed over opens a mine of “unsearchable riches,” with a light from above, more clear and full than the most intelligent exposition. David (Ps. 119:18, &c.) and his wise son (1 Kings 3:9-12) sought this learning upon their knees; and the most matured Christian will continue to the end to lift up his voice for a more enlarged knowledge of God (Eph. 1:17, 18.)

But prayer must not stand in the stead of diligence. Let it rather give energy to it. The miner’s indefatigable pains; his invincible resolution; his untiring perseverance; seeking, yea, searching for hid treasures,-such must be our searching into the sacred storehouse. To read, instead of searching the Scripture,” is only to skim the surface, and gather up a few superficial potions. The rule of success is-Dig up and down the field; and if the search be discouraging, dig again. The patient industry of perusal and reperusal will open the embosomed treasure. “Surely there is a vein for the silver.” (Job, 28:1.) Yet what miner would be content with the first ore? Would he not search deeper and deeper, until he has possessed himself of the whole; not satisfied with taking away much, but determined to leave nothing? Thus let us daily explore “the length, and the breadth, and the depth” of our boundless stores, until we be “filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 2:18, 19.)

This habit of living in the element of Scripture is invaluable. To be filled from this Divine treasury; to have large portions of the word daily passing through the mind; gives us a firmer grasp, and a more suitable and diversified application of it. Yet this profit can only be fully reaped in retirement. We may read the Scripture in company. But to search them, we must be alone with God. Here we learn to apply ourselves wholly to the word, and the word wholly to us. This enriching study gives a purer vein of sound judgment. The mere reader often scarcely knows where to begin, and he performs the routine without any definite object. His knowledge therefore must be scanty and ineffective. Nor is the neglect of this habit less hurtful to the Church. All fundamental errors and heresies in the Church may be traced to this source- “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.” (Matt. 22:29.) They are mostly based on partial or disjointed statements of truth. Truth separated from truth becomes error. But the mind prayerfully occupied in the search of Divine truth-crying and lifting up the voice-will never fail to discern the two great principles of godliness-the fear and knowledge of God. There is no peradventure nor disappointment in the search- Then shalt thou understand. The Lord giveth wisdom; it cometh out of his mouth. None shall search in vain. (Job 32:8. Isa. 48:17; 54:3. Jam. 1:5, 17. Comp. Gen. 41:38, 29. Exod. 4:12. Dan. 1:17.) Never has apostasy from the faith been connected with a prayerful and diligent study of the word of God.

(Charles Bridges)